Here’s my review of my top pick for the 2011 Korean Film Festival. More than anything else, I think that the movie “Scandal Maker” (과속스캔들) is proof that popular and commercial doesn’t need to be mediocre.
“Scandal Maker” introduces us to former teen idol Nam Hyeon-Soo (played brilliantly by Cha Tae-Hyun) who now is in his thirties and works as a radio disc jockey. One day, a young woman named Hwang Jeong-Nam (played by Park Bo-Young) starts to share stories about her being a single mother thru his radio program. Her story becomes a hit with listeners so when she mentions about being afraid to meet the father who doesn’t know about her existence, Nam Hyeon-Soo encourages her to do so. To his surprise, Nam Hyeon-Soo finds Hwang Jeong-Nam in front of his doorstep the next day. With her is her mischievous sleep-walking son, Ki-Dong (played by Wang Seok-Hyeon).
Initially, Nam Hyeon-Soo refuses to believe that he is the father of Nam Hyeon-Soo (and in essence, the grandfather of Ki-Dong!) so he even does a DNA test to prove his doubt. But when the test reveals the truth he ends up with a secret family that he cannot share with the world. Eventually, he learns about Nam Hyeon-Soo’s talents as a singer and Ki-Dong’s prodigy as a pianist. As a former musician as well, he grows closer with them until a scandal threatens to destroy his career or whatever he thinks is left of it.
“Scandal Maker” is one of those movies that combines drama, comedy, and a touch of romance in a seamless way that totally draws its viewers in. I remember the first time I saw this movie, I was laughing out loud one second, screaming in frustration the next, and then crying like a baby after another. It totally blew my mind and made me seem crazy because of the rollercoaster of emotions that it created.
Characterization is one of the strongest points of this movie. Cha Tae-Hyun delivers an engaging performance as always. He proves once again why he is the reigning king of comedies in Korea. But what I love about how he portrays Nam Hyeon-Soo is the dynamics of it. He isn’t a stereotype or a two-dimensional character. He breathes, feels, and even makes mistakes. So I could really relate and feel for him.
The same goes with Park Bo-Young. She delivers an almost flawless performance as a troubled single mother. I love the conflicting aspects of her characterization. I felt how she tries to be strong but is actually quite weak in front of her estranged dad. I loved how she tries to be a toughie on the surface but is actually quite a softie at heart. These contrasts make her such a loveable person. And did I mention she can sing like an absolute diva!? I was totally blown away by her voice.
As for Ki-Dong, what can I say but I love this kid. He’s such a charming boy who never tries too hard. Every time he’s on screen, it practically lights up. Plus I love the natural twinkle of mischief in his eyes. He was Denice the Menace/Bart Simpson if they were Korean. His talent as an actor is simply terrifyingly captivating.
“Scandal Maker” may have been Kang Hyeong-Cheol’s directorial debut but it totally didn’t feel like a a newbie was at the helm. The movie’s cinematography is beautiful with shots that leap out of the silver screen. The music is spot-on from start to finish as it matches the emotions of each moment perfectly. But most of all, it made me fall in love with the characters. I cared about them so much that I wanted to see more of them even after the credits started rolling in. No wonder it was the highest grossing Korean movie in 2008.
In my heart, this movie is definitely the one you cannot miss in this year’s film festival. It will be featured in SM Mall of Asia Cinema 6 on Sept. 19, 8:30pm and Sept. 25, 3:00pm. There will also be a screening at SM North EDSA Cinema 3 on Sept. 21, 1:40pm and Sept. 23, 6:30pm. It will also be shown in SM Cebu Cinema 1 on Sept. 28 at 1:30pm and Sept. 30, 9:30pm.
Thanks to EsraU for the video.